When it comes to exposure to the elements, it’s hard to outdo what happens to that poor windlass on the bow. Certainly, the gleaming exterior finish of a Lofrans’ Project 1500 windlass will hold up under exposure to harsh and salty conditions, but proper maintenance will ensure its beauty remains more than skin deep.
As with most deck hardware, this Lofrans’ windlass will benefit from frequent freshwater rinses and a thorough cleaning and inspection on a bimonthly to semi-annual basis, depending on the usage level the boat sees. Greasing parts and checking seals also enters the equation. Check your owner’s manual for recommended care of your specific unit.
“Most windlass gears are sealed in a bath of gear oil,” says Jim Thomas, anchoring products manager for IMTRA. “If oil is leaking from a shaft seal, it is time to address the issue with a replacement seal or seals. Many windlass manufacturers will offer a complete windlass seal kit. If you decide to replace one seal, you might want to consider replacing them all.”
Keeping things protected means making sure moving parts stay lubricated. “Chain gypsies, when greased, allow ground tackle to free-drop to the seabed floor,” Thomas says. “It is recommended that the chain gypsy be removed from the windlass no less than once a year to clean the mating surfaces between the gypsy and the clutch cones. All surfaces on the gypsy and cones should be thoroughly cleaned and inspected for scoring. Scoring occurs when there is a lack of grease in the system. A light film of lithium grease should be applied to mating surfaces between the gypsy and the clutch cones seasonally—more frequently if you are a bluewater cruiser using your windlass daily.”
This article originally appeared in the January 2014 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.